Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 14, 2012

Ithaca College announced Thursday that it will no longer require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college's announcement said that officials believed a test-optional approach was consistent with Ithaca's commitment to holistic reviews of applications. Further, the college statement said that "research on our past applicant pools and the performance of IC students demonstrates that a student’s standardized test score adds little predictive accuracy in understanding his or her subsequent success at Ithaca College." The college will continue to require test scores from applicants who were home-schooled or who attended high schools that do not give out letter grades.

 

May 11, 2012

The Korea Foundation is planning a significant expansion of programs designed to promote Korean studies in countries other than Korea, The Korea Herald reported. The Global E-School Program, which sets up centers at universities that mix locally based programs with real-life instruction from professors in South Korea, is one of the programs slated for expansion. The foundation currently supports 19 university centers in 12 countries. The foundation is starting an effort such that it would be supporting 57 centers in 23 countries.

 

May 11, 2012

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has revived a whistle-blower lawsuit against two teaching hospitals affiliated with Harvard University's medical school. The suit claims that researchers violated the False Claims Act by submitting false statements about their research in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health. A lower court dismissed the suit, but the appeals court revived it, saying that the lower court incorrectly did not examine certain potential testimony and evidence that might have backed the whistle-blower claims. The appeals court ruling did not resolve the issues in the suit itself.

(Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct the targets of the lawsuit.)

May 11, 2012

A report Wednesday night in a reliable Texas blog that some members of the University of Texas Board of Regents were maneuvering to fire Bill Powers as president of the Austin campus had students and faculty members rallying behind Powers on Thursday. Regents who are close to Governor Rick Perry are reportedly angry that Powers has argued for small tuition increases for his campus, rather than the tuition freeze requested by Perry. Powers has also defended his faculty members from criticisms made by a think tank with close ties to Perry. Hours after the blog post revealed the tensions, students had created Facebook pages to line up support. In less than 24 hours, I Stand With Bill Powers had nearly 10,000 members, most of them students and alumni.

Many wrote that they trusted Powers's views of the university's budget needs and that they worried about the impact of the board rejecting his tuition requests or firing him. One woman who graduated last year wrote: "I full-heartedly support President Bill Powers as the President of our esteemed university. I know that if he leaves, the results will be devastating. There would be no top-quality candidate that would wish to work at a university where politics play such a heavy handed role, and where such a leader is not free to voice his opinion without fear of retaliation. President Powers has been an incredible driving force in raising the standard, rigor, and value of a University of Texas degree, and should continue to do so."

Faculty leaders were circulating a resolution Thursday, on which they hope to vote Monday, to back Powers. "Recognizing the extraordinary efforts exerted by UT Austin President Bill Powers and his administrative team in support of the recent proposal for a modest, well-documented, and crucial tuition increase, the Faculty Council strongly commends them for seeking to protect and enhance the quality of our students' education and the value of their degrees, as well as the research and public service achievements of the faculty. The fact that the regents ultimately rejected the proposal diminishes neither the campus's need for such financial support nor the efforts made to attain it," the resolution says.

Late Thursday, Powers released a short statement: "I love The University of Texas, and it’s an honor to serve as its president. I am deeply grateful for the support of our students, faculty, staff, and the thousands of members of the UT family. I will continue to work with the entire UT community to move the university forward. At this moment, I am focused on the more than 8,000 students who will graduate next week and make immeasurable contributions to society -- extending the university’s legacy of excellence and our positive impact on Texas."

May 11, 2012

Universitas 21, a group of universities from around the world, has released a new international ranking of nations' higher education systems. Countries were evaluated on a series of measures related to resources (spending by governments and private sources); output (research and its impact and graduates who meet labor market needs); connectivity (international collaboration); and the higher education environment (government policies, diversity and other factors). Population was taken into account. The top five countries: United States, Sweden, Canada, Finland and Denmark.

 

 

May 11, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explores the cutting-edge chemistry of the modern fine dining experience. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 11, 2012

An article in The Kalamazoo Gazette explores why adjuncts at Kalamazoo Valley Community College are in the process of trying to form a union. Part-timers at the college cite a mix of long-term grievances, such as contracts giving them no due process rights and stating that they could lose jobs due to student evaluations. There were also single incidents, such as a switch to paying them monthly, leaving many struggling when a paycheck arrived more than two weeks after it had been expected. College officials declined to comment on the grievances.

 

 

May 11, 2012

The University of Southern California is planning to award degrees this year to nine Japanese-Americans who were students there during World War II and who were forced to end their studies when they were sent to internment camps, The Los Angeles Times reported. While many praise the move -- already undertaken by other colleges whose students from Japanese families were forced out during that time -- some say USC is not doing enough. Posthumous degrees are not being awarded to those who have died, for example. USC says that its polices would bar such degrees.

 

May 10, 2012

Two trustees of Deep Springs College have filed a suit in a California court to block the institution from admitting women, The Los Angeles Times reported. Deep Springs is a 28-student, two-year college near the Death Valley, known for educating men in a highly intense environment in which they also manage the college's farm. Many of its graduates transfer to some of the most competitive colleges in the United States. In September, after years of debate in which student recommendations to admit women were rejected by the trustees, the board voted to admit women, and a process is under way to do so in the fall of 2013.

The lawsuit says that the college was founded with a gift for educating men, and that the college is doing well in its current set-up. As a result, the suit says, the college's board should not be able to deviate from the founder's intent. "If the trustees wish to have a coeducational college similar to Deep Springs, they are free to donate or raise the funds to create one according to their own vision," the suit says.

David Neidorf, president at Deep Springs, said he hoped the college would admit women, and that he had not yet read the suit, and so could not comment on it.

 

May 10, 2012

In the federally mandated regulation that all distance education programs must obtain authorization from every state in which they enroll students, a much-touted solution has been a reciprocity agreement, under which states would agree to accept each other's authorization and spare large distance education programs from making up to 50 different applications. The Presidents' Forum and the Council of State Governments released a draft of such an agreement this week. The details of the authorization requirements are still scant, and will depend in part on the states who decide to join the effort, but the agreement would require minimum standards, including accreditation and legally mandated disclosures.

A later draft should be complete by this fall, and states are expected to begin joining the reciprocity agreement some time next year. The federal state authorization requirement has been challenged in court, but even if it is struck down, many believe that states will continue to enforce their own authorization rules.

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